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Colchester: Coins from hoard go under the hammer

PUBLISHED: 06:00 10 November 2011

Coins from the Colchester hoard

Coins from the Colchester hoard

Archant

NEARLY 200 coins from the 13th Century, discovered by two workmen in Colchester in 1969, could fetch up to £5,600 at an auction.

The 750-year-old long cross silver pennies were all made during the reign of King Henry III (1216-1272).

They were among 14,065 coins in a lidded lead canister found by labourers George Purvis and Ronald Munson when they were working on a new Boots store in High Street.

It is thought that the coins were left behind by Jewish financiers or bankers, who lived and worked in Colchester High Street in the late 13th century.

In July 1902, a hoard of 11,000 silver coins was found in the back garden of 25 High Street. It is thought that both hoards, from 1902 and 1969, are linked and may have belonged to the same Jewish family.

Philip Crummy, director of the trust, said: “We carried out an excavation of this site about 10 years ago and discovered an empty canister. So there have in fact been three discoveries in this area.

“The first, in 1902, was at the time the largest hoard ever discovered in England until it was overtaken in 1969 by the second discovery.

“The very fact that two substantial hoards were found on this site tells us that there was something very special about the building.

“There’s one explanation that this was the stone-built home of a Jewish family which was involved in money lending. Alternatively it could have been some kind of official building for the borough.

“The hoards are an intriguing symbol of some past important relationship which we can’t quite put our finger on.”

Research by the Colchester Archaeological Trust discovered that: “Local Jewish bankers Aaron and sons, Samuel and Joce, owned homes in this part of the High Street at the time.

“It cannot be proved absolutely but it seems likely that the Colchester medieval coin hoards were the reserves of this family or other financiers in their community unable to take their contents with them when the Jews were harshly expelled from England.

“The excellent quality of the coins, compared to the underweight and often clipped specimens of medieval currency in everyday use, also points to financiers as likely owners.”

Now 192 coins from the 1969 Colchester hoard are coming up for sale at Morton & Eden at Sotheby’s in London on Tuesday November 29.

They will be sold in eight lots with 24 coins in each lot and each lot has been given pre-sale estimates of £500 to £700.

Auctioneers Morton & Eden say the coins are in “very fine to good very fine” condition.

The lead canister in which the 1969 Colchester hoard was found, is now at Colchester Museum. The museum also has a number of coins, but has no plans to bid at the auction.

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